Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday January 18 2009
Fulham travelled to Upton Park this afternoon looking to extend their great unbeaten run; sadly it wasn`t to be as Roy Hodgson`s men gave a display that will want to be forgotten about very quickly.
Roy kept the same starting eleven that had served him well in the previous game with Jimmy Bullard absent through injury. Our hosts for the day let the missing Craig Bellamy know exactly what they thought of his absence as he seeks a move away from Upton Park.
Fulham got the action underway and started well when Andrew Johnson forced an early corner off Matthew Upson but the delivery from Simon Davies wasn`t up to scratch and it landed on the roof of the net.
West Ham launched their first serious attack and Carlton Cole saw his header drift wide from a good Lucas Neill ball into the box. Unfortunately, with six minutes gone, John Pantsil made the sort of error that the opposition pray for.
Pantsil chested the ball down, seemingly for Mark Schwarzer to collect, not realising Di Michele was lurking behind him. The Italian, on loan from Torino, simply skipped sideways past Schwarzer and slipped the ball into an empty net. It wasn`t the best of starts.
Matters didn`t get any better as Fulham continued to give a sloppy performance. On ten minutes Dickson Etuhu clearly pulled back Scott Parker but were relieved to see Mark Noble crash his free kick, from a great position, into the heart of the Fulham wall.
Midway through the half, Fulham equalised with a goal of breathtaking brilliance. Paul Konchesky picked the ball up in his own half and strode forward before hitting an unstoppable shot, from twenty-five yards, past Robert Green in the West Ham goal. It was Konchesky`s first goal for Fulham.
Suddenly it was Fulham`s turn to look the livelier side and when Bobby Zamora was pulled back, on the edge of the area, a free kick in a dangerous place was awarded. Sadly, with Danny Murphy and Konchesky lined up to take it, Konchesky saw his shot hit the West Ham wall and fly off to safety.
West Ham countered with Neill threading a great ball through to Di Michele but, to Fulham`s relief, the striker blazed high and wide with Mark Noble screaming for the ball in the centre.
As half time approached, Pantsil received the first yellow card of the game when he crudely hacked down Ilunga, the resulting free kick saw Di Michele spin and hit the side-netting with his shot.
Half time and all was square.
West Ham got the second half underway and Schwarzer was forced into action easily claiming a low shot from Noble. Down at the other end Zamora fired wide from an acute angle before the home side once again took the lead.
Konchesky failed to clear adequately and when Cole ran into the box he was fouled by the hero of the first half and the referee had no choice other than to give a penalty. Mark Noble didn`t waste the opportunity and easily scored.
The home side were now well on top and Cole fizzed a shot narrowly wide as Fulham struggled to create any decent chances. Zamora, on a rare foray up into the West Ham half, fired hopelessly high and wide. It was to be his last contribution as he was immediately replaced by Erik Nevland.
A minute later Hodgson made a second change as he tried to get Fulham on the front foot by replacing Simon Davies with Zoltan Gera. Sadly, two minutes later, Fulham conceded again.
Once again it was another mistake that led to the goal. Etuhu played a loose ball and immediately it was cut out and fed to Di Michele who, in turn, fed it to Cole to sweep home. It really was all over now.
Fulham, to their credit, tried to get back into the match and Johnson saw a back header easily claimed by Green. With four minutes of stoppage time announced it really was a case of delaying the inevitable ass Fulham were not at the races today, let`s hope things are different at Kettering next Saturday otherwise…………………..well let`s not go down that route.
Date:Sunday January 18 2009
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